10 App Store Games To Watch [June 2 – 8]


It seems the more I try to catch up the further behind I get, but I will keep bringing you these roundups in as timely a fashion as I can.  As usual I’ve tried to diversify the game genres as much as possible, but of course there are just some styles of game play I just naturally gravitate towards.  My favorite game this week was Sky Force 2014, and if you haven’t already tried it but consider yourself a shmup fan just hang up your membership now and hang your head in shame.  Without further ado, here are the games…

Sky Force 2014 – I love shmup’s, so this next statement means a lot.  I think this is now my favorite iOS shmup.  My benchmark for judgment has always been the classic Capcom offering 1942, and this exhibits all the basic game play elements of that game: lots of enemy formations, fair but increasing difficulty levels, and missions that don’t get boring no matter how often you play them.  Unfortunately Sky Force does not offer the signature “roll to dodge” move that 1942 seems to have monopolized, but all its extras more than make up for it.  There are three difficulty levels for each mission and 4 goals to complete per difficulty level, which means you could play each mission at least 12 times.  Trust me when I say you’ll be visiting the missions at lot more than that.  Add on to that the upgrade system, which gives you eight items to upgrade with many levels of upgrade per item, and you could be playing this game for a long time before coming even close to having the ultimate fighter.  Personally, that’s just fine with me.  I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent on the game so far, but it still feels like a fresh experience every time I play through a mission.  You can’t ask for much more than that.

Sky Force 2014 Infinite Dreams Inc., Sky Force 2014 – Free

Space Heads – Infinite runners is another favorite genre of mine, and while it’s hard for me to get bored playing one they mostly tend to focus on you controlling a person or animal of some sort.  Space Heads takes the playing field to outer space (I know, who would have guessed), but instead of guiding a soldier through alien fields or anything like that you pilot a ship through massive lengths of heavily protected tunnels.  A few games with this motif have surfaced in the past, but few have been done as well as this one in my opinion.  I know the levels are randomly put together, but the combination of obstacles present is always quite exhilarating.  Instead of your normal “swipe left and right” you actually move on a 3 x 3 grid, which adds an interesting perspective when trying to dodge certain perils.  You can also tap the screen to temporarily fly sideways, though I feel like this technique is sorely underused.  You collect gems to upgrade each of four different power ups, and you can also unlock certain pilots with the gems.  Other pilots require special items to unlock, and I’m not entirely sure how you get those.  The game offers 23 achievements through Game Center, though surprisingly there are no leaderboards.  You can upload your run as a video to Everplay if you’d like.

Space Heads! Unity Studios, Space Heads! – Free

Balloon Kingdom – This week’s “thank you for not being Flappy Bird” award goes to Balloon Kingdom.  Sure you tap to move up and release to move down, but unlike its predecessor this game is rather entertaining, and while it starts out almost a bit too easy, the challenge soon ramps up.  In addition to this world’s equivalent of the standard pipe type object there are other environmental items you have to contend with, some that you can even collide with, though the results still may not work out in your favor.  There are also enemies that come at you from different directions, and in some levels you’ll have to fight bosses.  Speaking of which, Balloon Kingdom is actually level based instead of being one infinite level, and each level has 3 key tokens that you can collect.  These can be used to unlock additional worlds once you’ve beaten the initial one.  You even have the chance to select special items at the beginning of the level to help you on your quest, though it appears that the only way to replenish these items is through IAP (or launching the game every day).  The graphics are kind of a mix between Pac-land and Super Mario Bros, and the atmosphere as a whole should be quite pleasing to kids.  Thankfully adults can enjoy this offering as well.

Balloon Kingdom CROOZ, Inc., Balloon Kingdom – Free

Kindly Colors – There’s a good chance you’ve not played a match 3 game like this before, because with all the ones I’ve played over the years I don’t think I’ve played anything quite like it.  Match 5 would be more appropriate, because valid chains have to be at least 5 tiles long.  The cool thing is that your chain can be comprised of two different colors, and if you press down on a tile a handy wheel at the top will show you which other two colors you can include in your chain.  Matches earn you points which progress you to new levels and new levels mean more moves.  You get 15 per level, and once all your moves are gone the game is over.  Match 7 or more tiles and depending on the shape you’ll earn a power up tile that you can activate by including it in a match.  While your moves are limited your time is not, so you can relax and listen to the peaceful music while you try to figure out what your next move is going to be.  As long as you don’t take your finger off the screen you can even retrace your steps to include more tiles that might be in the opposite direction.  There are no achievements at this point, but there is a leaderboard and you can brag to your friends via Facebook if you’d like.

Kindly Colors Amusing Mind, Kindly Colors – Free

Blast Your Way – The iTunes description coins the phrase “travel defense” in describing this game, and frankly I can’t think of a better way to put it.  Your job is to protect a vehicle carrying money as it travels from point A to point B, but instead of directly controlling the car or anyone in it you’ll snipe out of existence anything that stands in the vehicle’s way or that tries to ram it to get the loot. Tapping the enemy is enough to dispose of it, though in most cases you’ll need to use multiple shots to take out a car.  If you start feeling overwhelmed you can drag special weapons onto the playing field such as landmines, bombs and even air strikes.  Occasionally once you’ve reached your goal you’ll have to fend off some crooks throwing various explosives at the vehicle by shooting the explosives before they make contact.  Each main location is broken up into several sublocations, and when you complete a sublocation you’ll earn XP that lets you rank up and unlock new power ups to use.  You also collect money to buy power ups and new vehicles.  There’s currently only one major location, New York, but London is “coming soon” and hopefully we’ll see more locales as well.  Game Center integration would be cool to, since right now your only link to the outside world is Facebook.

Blast Your Way C4 Gaming, Blast Your Way – Free

Puzzle Racers: 2048 Turbo – I always like to see developers try new mash-ups, and this is certainly a different one.  The game is a top down racer, but instead of directly controlling your vehicle you move it by playing a game of 2048.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, you shuffle squares around a playing field and when two with the same number collide they form one tile with the sum of those two numbers.  If one slide causes multiple combinations then you get an extra boost.  You can play in Race or Laps mode, the only difference that I can tell being Race mode has a definitive end whereas in Laps mode you just keep going until you can’t slide any more tiles.  Of course my playing field gets filled up no matter what, and I can’t seem to ever beat the computer player.  There are 4 leaderboards, though I’m not sure how they are hosted since the game doesn’t appear to use Game Center and you don’t need to sign into Facebook.  You can post to Twitter and Facebook through the game if you like.  I think this game is a great start, and with some additional features and true social connectivity it could be a neat, unique entry in the overhead racing market.

Puzzle Racers: 2048 Turbo eBattalion, Puzzle Racers: 2048 Turbo – Free

Save The Island – This is a pretty novel idea, and interestingly enough two games were released in the same week that capitalized on it.  More odd than that is the fact that the two games actually use the same visuals – I’m guessing they are one in the same, and for some reason have been published by two different “authors”, but I don’t care about that.  The basic premise behind the game is that you must keep an island afloat by manipulating weights to counter-balance the ever shifting population.  Should you fail, you are “treated” to an animation of the island sinking and all the poor inhabitants that trusted in you floating to the surface of the water, presumably having perished.  Of course, much like the “last resort” button in the old game Lemmings, some might find this end more entertaining than the game itself.  I picked this version of the game over the other one because it actually feels a bit more polished with difficulty settings, country selection and a leaderboard.  You probably won’t keep this one on your device for long, but since you most likely haven’t played anything like this before, it’s at least worth checking out.

Save The Island Norberto Bizzarri, Save The Island – Free

Dark Way Down – This is a simple puzzle game with a minimal interface, yet I find it very intriguing.  All you have to do is move your character on top of all the dark tiles to make them light, and you can pass the level.  Sometimes you might have to darken an already lit tile to get to another part of the board, and eventually you’ll start getting walls that force you to take the long way around to your objective.  You’ll also get teleports that help you cross the board without wasting moves.  You do have a limited number of moves with which to complete the board, though thankfully they were at least kind enough not to include a timer (an option for this would be nice for those who like that sort of challenge).  One thing I like about this particular variant on this style of game play is that you can actually move off the board on one side and reappear on the other.  This mechanic adds an interesting dimension to game play.  There are achievements and leaderboards, but it seems the developers forgot their intended target and left the interface for the Android version of the game, so it tries to connect with your Google Play account.  Hopefully they’ll fix this in the future so that iOS users can have Game Center achievements.

Dark Way Down Daniel Fairley, Dark Way Down – Free

Roller Coaster Mountain – This is a third person infinite runner, but the screen shots are a bit misleading in that they make it seem like you spend the majority of your time in a mine cart of sorts.  That’s actually just a small portion of the trip, but it doesn’t matter because the whole thing is so crazy you won’t care.  The level often feels Sonic-inspired, which is pretty cool in my opinion.  You’ll have all the usual obstacles to dodge, but when there’s just no way to avoid something you can either user your booster to plow through the obstacles or super concentration to slow the world around you and make that impossible leap.  Like usual you can collect coins to buy upgrades and new costumes (which in this case amounts to different hair styles), and there are also missions to complete which reward you with power up bonuses.  Game Center provides a leaderboard and you can post to Facebook if you wish, but there are no achievements at this point.  Roller Coaster Mountain really doesn’t break any new ground in the infinite runner genre, but there’s so much going on with the levels that it just feels different from the typical runner.

Roller Coaster Mountain SangWoon Yi, Roller Coaster Mountain – Free

Royal Defenders – Okay, I’m finally starting to see the appeal of tower defense games.  Of course, one might argue that this is not such a game since there aren’t any towers, but that’s just nit-picking.  The fact that your “towers” in this case are actual creatures is part of the game’s appeal, and I’ve grown particularly fond of the mace wielding cat despite the fact that I am not a feline lover of any sort.  You can have several different defenders in your arsenal at a time, and as you level up your game persona that amount will increase.  Each defender can be upgraded once after it has been placed on the field, but in between levels you can boost each of 4 stats on a given defender as long as you have the resources.  Certain levels reward you with a coin that you can spend in the arm-o-tron vending machine to get a new defender type.  There’s a deluxe version of this with more intriguing defenders to be had, but that requires gems which only appear attainable via IAP.  Social features allow you to share gifts and lives with your friends to aid them in their campaign, and there are also live events where you can compete either with or against players from around the world.  The silly story and wacky characters should help the game appeal to those who might not care so much for the genre, but hardcore tower defense junkies will find a lot to like as well.

Royal Defenders Mobage, Inc., Royal Defenders – Free

That was just 10 of the many new releases this past week. Here are several more notable titles you may find of interest:

Well that wraps up another week of games to watch on the App Store. As always, if there’s something you’ve played from the past week that you feel should be part of this list, please leave a reply to this post. Previous weekly installments of our New App Store Games Roundup:

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